Why study in Italy
It's difficult to find a country as inspiring as Italy. Birthplace of the Renaissance, home of countless famous dishes and museums, and the hub of the best luxury brands, Italy is a world leader in many areas. Plus, it has unparalleled beauty in both architecture and nature — from the cobblestone streets of Rome to the bright blue waters of the Amalfi Coast. Today, Italy, the country of the world's greatest minds, such as Da Vinci and Dante, welcomes bright students like you.
Thanks to its affordable and high-quality education, many international students choose Italy for their studies.
A country with beauty everywhere, both in architecture and in nature, Italy provides affordable and high-quality education in many fields. From north to south, the country is full of arts, culture, and history. And of course, great universities that offer globally recognized degrees.
Here are the top reasons why Italy is one of the best places to study:
- High-ranking public and private universities offering a variety of degrees. With public universities charging between €0–5,000 per year, Italy is one of the most affordable European countries in terms of tuition fees. Among its 60 ranked universities, it is possible to find degrees in different fields, such as design, business, science, and engineering. No matter what your budget or interests are, Italy, a hub for both arts and sciences, will have something for you.
- Food, culture, and lifestyle like no other country. Italy is arguably one of the best destinations for foodies, culture lovers, and art enthusiasts. As the country with the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites, Italy is home to architectural masterpieces such as the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That said, visiting landmarks is only one part of experiencing Italy’s culture. To get to know Italy, go out and taste homemade pasta, grab a slice of thin-crust pizza, and have an espresso at a bar!
- English degrees that are valid all over the world. Italy has over 185 Bachelor’s, over 700 Master’s, and over 70 PhD programmes taught entirely in English. Plus, the country is a member of the European Higher Education Area along with 49 other member states, mainly from Europe. This means that once you obtain your degree in Italy, you can continue your studies in any of the member countries as if you studied in the same place all along.
- A vibrant student life full of travelling opportunities. In Italy, social life is very important. Especially in big cities, you will find many restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightclubs to spend time and meet new people. As an international student, you also benefit from various discounts, including lower museum entrances and cheaper train tickets. Hop on a bus, take a fast train, or head to the nearest airport, and you’ll be in another wonderful part of the country, in a matter of hours.
In the Italian grading system, you will receive a mark from 0 to 30, with 18 being the minimum required to pass. Bachelor's programmes (Laurea Triennale) last three years, and Master’s programmes (Laurea Magistrale) last two years.
Many international students choose to study in Italy because the country’s traits, which make it stand out from the crowd, are also reflected in the study curricula. For example, Milan, one of the world’s leading fashion hubs, is also a magnet for students interested in degrees in fashion, branding, and design. But the fashion capital has way more to offer! Here, you can find some of the best technical universities in the country, such as Politecnico di Milano. Italy also has successful business schools, such as Bologna Business School, and Life Sciences and Medicine programmes taught in English, like the courses at the Sapienza University of Rome.
Located in the heart of Europe, Italy shares borders with Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, and France, which means that there are countless travel options to explore even more cultures. You can easily travel to these European countries by bus or train, depending on where in Italy you’re studying. Other countries in Western, Eastern, and Central Europe will also be a short flight (or train) ride away.
Learn more about studying in Italy by reading these student stories:
Culture in Italy
People in Italy are known to be friendly and family-oriented. They take a lot of pride in their culture, which includes their food, language, and values. Respect for the elderly is very important in Italian culture — so important that the Italian Parliament introduced Festa dei Nonni (Grandparents’ Day) in 2005. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy is known for influencing the world’s art, music, and architecture scene. It is also famous for its top-notch luxury fashion and car brands, such as Gucci, Prada, Ferrari, and Lamborghini.
Italy’s population is around 60 million and it is the seventh biggest country in the European Union. It is made up of 20 regions, each with its own culture, dialect, and food. The north is considered the economic centre, whereas the south is more for tourism.
Cultural diversity in Italy
Besides Italians, who account for over 90% of Italy’s population, there are also strong Romanian, Albanian, and Moroccan communities. In addition to this, each region of Italy has its own distinct culture.
Languages spoken in Italy
Italy’s official language is Italian. While it’s the mother tongue of the vast majority of people, regional languages also exist. These languages are different from Italian and are not always mutually intelligible. It is important to note that English proficiency in Italy is not high. Learning some Italian will definitely make your daily life easier.
Italian food and culture
Lasagna, spaghetti, gnocchi, risotto… The list goes on. Italian food is among the best in the world, and it is very diverse. For example, in the south, you will find a lot of seafood, and in the north, more meat-based dishes. Socialising over food is very common in Italian culture. During ‘aperitivo,’ which takes place before dinner, people enjoy catching up while enjoying some wine or spirits, along with appetisers such as olives, cheese, or crisps.
Weather in Italy
Overall, Italy has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. It snows in the north during winter, especially in the Alps, which are a top European skiing destination. You can enjoy the country’s beautiful southern beaches in the summer and spring.
How to choose a university in Italy?
While choosing a university in Italy is a personal choice, there are some general ideas for you to consider. Here is our choosing a university checklist to help you with your decision:
- Is the university accessible to international students? To make sure that your university has English-taught programmes and an English-speaking community, check their website for English content and read the reviews.
- Do you want to live in a big city or a smaller student city? Big cities like Milan, Rome, and Florence are the world’s leading cultural hubs. Therefore, you will probably meet more international students and expats, but cost of living is also higher. For a more budget-friendly destination with a mix of internationals and locals, you can consider smaller student cities like Pisa, Padua, or Siena.
- What is your budget? Although there are many scholarship programmes you can apply for, private universities still have higher tuition fees. You will also have living expenses, which are higher in bigger cities.
- How does the university perform in your field? By checking QS Subject Rankings or THE World University Rankings, you can see how well the university is in your chosen field.
- What do students think about the university and the programme? Research the programme on StudyPortals and read student reviews to get an idea of how students feel about the university.
What are the best universities in Italy?
Here are the top 5 universities in Italy, among the 60 world-ranking universities throughout the country:
- Bologna Business School is the leading business school in Italy, providing global MBAs and executive masters in different fields, including marketing, finance, and innovation.
- The University of Bologna is considered to be the oldest university in the Western world. From economics to life sciences, it offers many different Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD programmes.
- Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa offers Bachelor’s and PhD courses and selects students solely based on merit.
- Humanitas University is an international university focusing on Life Sciences located in Milan. Its courses include Medicine, Nursing, Physiotherapy, and related Master’s degrees.
- Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies Pisa is a public research university that selects students upon the passing of a public competition. Their speciality is applied sciences.
>>> Have a look at the full list of university rankings in Italy.
What are the top student hubs in Italy?
- One of Italy’s biggest student hubs is Milan which is also the economic capital of the country. Located in the north, this glamorous city attracts a lot of students in many fields, namely Business, Fashion, and Engineering.
- South of Milan, Bologna is a large city known for its ancient university and… the Bolognese pasta dishes. It offers a wide range of English language programmes, which makes it a favourite for many international students.
- Another big city that is a student hub is —of course— the capital city, Rome. A true open-air museum with so much history on the streets, the Eternal City provides degrees focusing on Arts, Design, Film, Medicine, and more.
- For those who prefer smaller yet vibrant student cities, Pisa, Padua, and Pavia are all great places to consider.
Tuition Fees in Italy
Tuition fees in Italy depend on the university, the type of degree, and the student’s economic condition. On average, tuition in public universities is between €0 and €5,000 per year, and in private universities, between €3,000 and up to €35,000 per year. Some universities might have higher tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students but in most universities, there is not a big difference between EU and non-EU students.
The Italian government gives scholarships to international students every year. Most universities also have their own scholarship programmes that take into account merit, the student’s country of origin, and family income.
Italian students can use the ISEE (Indicator of Economic Situation) to reduce their tuition fees. ISEE examines their families’ income and assets in Italy to determine whether students qualify for lower tuition fees. Since international students rarely have property or savings accounts in Italy, they need to use another system called ISEEU parificato (ISEE equivalent). This tool calculates income and assets outside Italy. The best way to learn if you can benefit from ISEEU parificato is to contact your university and CAF (Fiscal Assistance Centre). While it is available in some universities, not all universities have this possibility since it depends on their agreement with the local fiscal assistance centres. Make sure to check the “international students” section of your preferred universities.
That said, there are many low-tuition fee universities in Italy where you can get your Bachelor’s or Master’s degree for under €2,000. Some more budget-friendly universities we recommend are the University of Pisa, the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, and the University of Genoa.
>>> Here you have the full list of universities with the cheapest tuition fees in Italy.
Check ScholarshipPortal to view 1,000+ opportunities to reduce your tuition fees in Italy. Some Italian universities also offer a 100% tuition fee waiver.
>>> Use the ‘Tuition fee’ filter on the left menu of our Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD search pages to find the programme best suited for your budget. You can also sort the list of available programmes by Lowest tuition fee by clicking the top right Sort button.
Can I study in Italy for free?
You can study in Italy for free if you get a full scholarship. Even if you don't get free tuition, lowering your fees is possible.
Public universities offer payment plans based on your financial situation. Most universities’ websites show a range of tuition fees from the minimum to the maximum payable amount. For example, a Master’s in Computer Engineering at the University of Genoa costs between €0 and €3,000. While determining how much you need to pay, universities consider your academic accomplishments, income, nationality, and disability status.For the most accurate information, check the official websites of the universities you’re interested in.
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Italy
Both the Italian government and universities offer scholarships, reduced fees, and some other benefits. International students can apply for the ISEE equivalent (ISEEU parificato) at some universities. While ISEE lowers your tuition fees, keep in mind that it is a lengthy, bureaucratic process.
You can apply for financial aid after being accepted through ISEE or other programmes your university offers. Many universities have lower fees for students from developing countries and non-OECD countries.
If you start researching in advance, you can find many scholarship programmes. Here is the list of over 1,400 scholarships for Bachelor’s Master’s, and PhD programmes in Italy.
Types of scholarships on offer
In Italy, there are many scholarship and financial aid options based on merit, financial need, and other criteria such as nationality. There are also options to get grants, bursaries, and loans.
Where can I find scholarships?
Our Scholarships Portal is a good place to figure out where to apply for the best scholarships in Italy. You can find hundreds of scholarships from NGOs, governmental or private institutions, and universities.
Here are other sources where you can learn more about scholarships and financial aid in Italy:
- Studyportals Scholarship – International Distinction Award, open to all international students – see FAQ about the award here.
- University websites: On the website of your preferred university, click on the “international students” section. You will be able to see the scholarships they offer or recommend. Here is a comprehensive list of universities offering scholarships.
- Italian government scholarships: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation offers scholarships to students from eligible countries in cultural, scientific, and technological fields.
- European University Institute – "Grants for Foreigners" Programme: Also offered by the Italian government, this grant is specifically for doctoral candidates who want to study at EUI.
- Diritto allo Studio (Right to Study) scholarship: Based on merit or economic condition, this scholarship is for students who want to pursue their higher education in Art, Dance, and Music (AFAM) areas, in AFAM institutions.
- Scuola Normale Superiore PhD Scholarships: All PhD students who get accepted receive a scholarship that includes financial support for accommodation.
- Invest in your Talent scholarship – Master’s or PhD students from eligible countries get to attend prestigious Italian universities. The programme also includes work placements at Italian companies.
- NATO Defense College - Fellowships: This fellowship covers students’ living expenses in Rome while they conduct research at the NATO Defense College.
How to apply
Once you have some scholarship options in mind, it is time to read the requirements carefully. This way, you will get a solid idea of how to apply for a scholarship in Italy. The application process requires a lot of research and documents. Here is a step-by-step checklist:
- Check the eligibility criteria to make sure you qualify: Most scholarships have specific requirements, which may include academic achievements, nationality, age, field of study, economic condition, and more. Grants and bursaries may also have different rules.
- Gather the required documents: Get all the necessary documents well before the application deadline. The most common ones are passport copies, transcripts, motivation letters, or recommendation letters.
- Apply: Complete your application when you have all the documents you need. If you’re applying for an Italian government scholarship, the applications are made through the Study in Italy portal. Universities’ scholarships may have different procedures. Try submitting your application before the deadline, as portals can get busy toward the end of the application period.
- Wait for a response: You will receive a call or an email if you are shortlisted for the scholarship. They might then ask you for an interview.
- Read the terms and conditions and accept: Congratulations!
What to include in your application
Some documents are common in almost all scholarship applications. Firstly, they will ask you why you are applying for financial aid. This is usually done through motivation letters in which you have to discuss how the scholarship will help your future career.
Other documents for a successful scholarship application include:
- Completed scholarship application form: Make sure you proofread your application form. A small mistake can cost you the entire scholarship.
- Copy of your passport or ID card
- Copy of transcripts
- Letter of recommendation: You usually need to request it from a teacher or an employer who knows you well.
- Financial information such as bank statements
- Proof of language proficiency: For English programmes, you will only need to prove your English level.
- Test scores: Besides your GPA, universities may ask for other exam results. For example, students who want to study Medicine in Italy need to take the IMAT exam.
- Essay: Some universities might want an essay on a given topic to see your writing and argumentation skills.
- Portfolio: For Art and Design and related degrees, your university will want to see your past work.
Apply to university in Italy
Before you start the application process, choose some universities in Italy. While making your decision, consider the course content, university rankings, your budget, living costs, and the size of the city. Our list of the top-ranking universities in Italy can be helpful.
How to apply
Besides Study Portals, another source you can use to find universities is Universitaly, which was created by the Italian Ministry of Education. This portal allows you to browse courses in English and to pre-enrol for degree programmes. The Uni-Italia Association also has a helpful FAQ section for international students.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply to universities in Italy:
- Make a list of the universities you’re interested in by using Study Portals and Universitaly. Then check the websites of these universities for calls for applications. The exact dates vary so make sure that you note them.
- Once you’ve selected universities, check their admission requirements. Bachelor’s degrees require 12 years of pre-university education, and Master’s degrees require 15 years. Other factors depend on the university and the course.
- Now, it is time to send your applications. Read the universities’ official websites carefully to sign up for their application portal and submit the necessary documents. At this stage, you can apply to as many universities as you want. If the university finds you eligible, you will receive “a letter of eligibility for enrolment.”
- A letter of eligibility is different from an acceptance letter. Instead, it means that the university will require certain documents to consider your application. These can be entry visas, diplomas, language certificates, or entry tests. Medicine, Architecture, and Engineering are some of the degrees requiring entry tests.
- If you are a non-EU student who needs a visa to study in Italy, pre-enrolling at Universitaly is mandatory. Keep in mind that the Universitaly portal allows you to pre-enrol at only one university. Your university will send you more information about the pre-enrolment process.
- Your university will check your Universitaly application and verify your pre-enrolment if all your documents are complete.
What’s the structure of the Italian academic year
The academic year in Italy consists of two semesters. While the exact starting and ending dates change from university to university, most follow a similar schedule.
- First semester: September/October to December
- Second semester: January/February to June/July
- Christmas break: from the end of December to the first week of January
- Easter break
- Summer break (in July/August — exact dates depend on the university)
- Italian public holidays
When to apply to Italian universities
In Italy, each university announces its own application deadlines. You can check this on the course pages of the universities you are interested in. For degrees starting in September, applications usually open in March and finish in April or May. After the interviews and the admission process, students can enrol in June or July.
Documents needed to apply for university
While each university might require different documents, in general, you need:
- Passport/ID card
- Passport type photograph
- Academic transcript
- University application form
- Letter of recommendation
- Letter of motivation (Adding a letter of motivation as a supporting document is useful, even if your university doesn’t require it.)
- Language proficiency (English or Italian)
- Portfolio (for students of Architecture, Art and Design, and related programmes)
- Exam results, SAT, ACT, or IMAT
English language requirements to study in Italy
- IELTS: IELTS assesses English proficiency by giving a grade between 0 and 9 in four categories: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Ultimately, it takes the average of these four parts so you get a grade out of 9. To give you an idea of the minimum required grade, one of the top universities in Italy, the University of Bologna requires a minimum of 5.5 in IELTS.
- TOEFL: Also consisting of the same four categories, TOEFL gives a score between 0 and 30 for each category. Instead of taking an average, it sums up the results so the maximum grade is 120. If we take the same example of the University of Bologna, the required grade for admission is 80.
Italian language requirements to study in Italy
Your university will not ask for proof of Italian language unless your degree programme is in Italian. In most cases, you need to speak Italian at a B2 level to be admitted to an Italian-language programme.
Even if you are not planning to study in Italian, learning the language will be useful in your daily life. Italian is one of the Romance languages, along with French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. If you speak one of these languages, you will see that the language structures are similar. That said, for English speakers, Italian is not considered as hard to learn.
Student housing in Italy
Most Italian universities have a dedicated webpage for student housing. Besides campus accommodation, you can also find recommended private residences and useful resources on how to find student accommodation in Italy.
- Student residences based on merit and income: Italian universities offer merit and need-based student housing to international students. For the most accurate information and guidelines, you should check your university’s website for application calls. A merit-based student residence requires you to pass a competition. Plus, in such residences, you need to keep your grades high throughout your studies.
- University-run accommodations are the cheapest options, and they include bills such as electricity, gas, and internet. In some cases, meals are also included. Let’s take The University of Milan as an example. It offers single or double rooms for 700 non-resident students based on merit and need. The selected students pay €2,750 for 11 months, which works out to €250 per month. Keeping in mind that Milan is an expensive city, this price is very affordable.
- Renting a room or an apartment off-campus: Depending on your budget, you can consider sharing a house with others, renting an apartment by yourself, or looking for private student halls. While making your choice, make sure to check if the bills are included, how many people will be living there, and if the landlord is trustworthy.
- Real estate websites such as casa.it or immobiliare.it
- Social media student groups
- Student accommodation websites such as Student, Uniplaces,Erasmusu,HousingAnywhere, and Casita.
When to apply for student accommodation
When it’s time to apply, university residences will publish a call for applications on their websites. For example, The University of Milano usually accepts student applications between July and August. If you’re searching independently, it is best to start looking as soon as you receive an acceptance letter from your university.
Cost of living in Italy
The average cost of living in Italy for a student could range from €700-1,500 per month. This amount will depend on the city you’re living in, the type of accommodation you’re staying in, and your other personal expenses, including food, travel, and entertainment.
According to the latest statistics, here are the average costs for some common expenses in Italy:
- Rent for a one-bedroom apartment (not student accommodation): €500-650 per month
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: €15
- Draught beer at a restaurant or bar: €5
- Cappuccino at a cafe: €1.50
- A one-way ticket for local public transport: €1.50
- Cinema ticket: €9
- Fitness club: €46 per month
- 1 minute of prepaid local mobile tariff: €0.16
Milan is the most expensive city in Italy. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs €1,310 per month, which is double the country average. Florence, Parma, Bologna, and Rome are also considered expensive cities.
As a student, you can benefit from discounts in cinemas, shops, and public transportation. You can also sign up for ISIC, the international student card. This card proves your student status worldwide and offers more than 150,000 discount opportunities in Italy. Once you purchase your ISIC student card for €13, you will be able to benefit from discounts on groceries, entertainment, travel, and more.
Italy is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe and has a lower cost of living than France, Germany, and Belgium. Costs for communication services, transport, and recreational activities are lower than the European Union average. Indeed, in Italy, getting a SIM card with data costs less than €10. Regarding transportation, companies such as Trenitalia offer a wide range of discounts and flexible fares.
Cost of food in Italy
It is possible to buy groceries for €150-200 per month in local supermarkets. Aldi, Lidl, Prix Discount, and Penny Market are some of the cheapest stores in the country. Farmers' markets (mercati in Italian) also offer competitive prices for fresh food. If you visit the mercati in your city, you will be able to get fresh pasta, bread, fruits and vegetables, meat, and fish.
In Italy, you have endless options for eating out. You can grab a slice of pizza from a local bakery for €3-4, eat a pasta dish for €8-10, or grab a gelato for €3-4. If you go out for aperitivo, you can get a drink and some snacks for around €8. Keep in mind that when you eat out, some restaurants might charge €1-2 for a cover charge (coperto in Italian) which is normal in Italy.
Work and study in Italy
Are international students allowed to work in Italy?
As an international student, you can work 20 hours per week in Italy, which is the equivalent of a part-time job. This is included in your student visa and you won’t need an additional work permit to get a part-time job during your studies. The 20-hour-per-week rule applies to both EU and non-EU students.
Where can I find jobs?
The first place to look for jobs is your university. Italian universities have a system called student collaborations (collaborazioni studentesche) that provides work opportunities for local and international students. For example, The University of Padua allows its students to work at the university offices as a part of their student collaborations. Students can earn up to €8.26 per hour while working at the international admission office, library, or laboratory. Alternatively, students can also apply to become tutors as a part of the university’s tutoring scheme.
If you want to work at a restaurant or a bar, you would need to speak some Italian in most cases. Once you have a basic knowledge of the language, consider asking restaurants if they are hiring.
Some other part-time jobs for non-Italian speakers are babysitting, pet sitting, tutoring, or paid internships/jobs related to your degree. You can also look for online jobs, such as freelancing or online tutoring. Here are some useful sources:
- Babysitting: Sitly, Babysits, Facebook groups.
- Pet Sitting: Trusted Housesitters, Facebook groups.
- Paid internships and other student jobs on-site: The Local, iAgora, LinkedIn, Indeed.
- Freelancing websites: Upwork, Fiverr, LinkedIn, PeoplePerHour.
- Online tutoring websites: Tutor.com, Preply, italki.
Is Italy safe?
Italy is considered a safe country, ranking 32nd on the World Population Review’s Global Peace Index. That said, it is still important to note the emergency numbers and follow basic safety measures. Important phone numbers in Italy are:
- European emergency number: 112
- Police: 113
- Firefighter: 115
How to stay safe in Italy?
Although the crime levels in Italy are not high, you still need to be aware of pickpockets, robbers, and scammers.
- Get insurance: Getting health and travel insurance while you’re studying abroad is essential. You never know what might happen.
- Pay attention to your surroundings, especially at night: Try not to walk alone at night, and if that’s not possible, consider taking a taxi or an Uber.
- Be careful at tourist spots and public transport: Especially in touristy cities such as Rome, Florence, or Milan, tourist attractions and public transport can be a hotspot for pickpockets. Make sure to pay extra attention to your bags, and don’t keep your phone or wallet in your back pocket.
Student insurance in Italy
Student insurance is mandatory in Italy.
EU students who hold a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can access medically necessary treatment without purchasing additional insurance.
Non-EU students need to register with the Italian National Health Service (SSN) or get private health insurance valid in Italy. Both EU and non-EU students can contact the local health authority in their cities to register with the SSN, even if they have other insurance.
>>> Learn more about this by visiting our Student Insurance Portal.
Support services available for international students
Italian universities have international student offices that provide information and guidance. They also offer various student support services such as counselling, assistance in finding internships or language courses, and any other help students may need depending on their individual circumstances, including support services for special needs students.
International student offices also make sure that students have the opportunity to socialise and meet others. For example, Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan organises welcome days for international students to make them feel part of the community from the beginning.
When you arrive in Italy, visit your university’s international students' office to learn about the events they are organising. Here are other associations that offer support to international students:
- Uni-Italia: Founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of University and Research, and the Ministry of Interior, Uni-Italia aims to inform international students about social, academic, and cultural life in Italy. They also help students find the right contacts in the universities or elsewhere in Italy.
- Italy for Students: Their services include helping students with their visas before they come to Italy, supporting current students with administrative processes such as residence permits, and helping graduates transition from student to expat. Keep in mind that these services are paid.
- International Students Union: Aimed at both students and scholars, International Students Union helps internationals get the support they need when relocating to Italy.
Besides providing support services, some student organisations aim to defend both local and international students’ rights and help improve their experience in Italy. Some of the most popular are:
- Unione degli Universitari (UdU): UdU (Students’ Union) aims to protect students' rights and represent them on national issues.
- Erasmus Student Network (ESN): As a non-profit student organisation, ESN is present all over Europe, including Italy. Besides providing support, they also organise academic, cultural, and social events.
- Buddy Programme at universities: More and more universities in Italy are implementing this programme intended for first-year students. If you participate, your university will assign you a “buddy,” who has already completed their first year at your university. This person will be responsible for answering your questions, showing you the campus, and helping you integrate into your new life.
Things to do for students on a budget
Hunting for discounts and cheap activities are a part of student life. If you plan ahead, you might find exciting free things to do and get creative about where to travel in Italy. For example, you can access Italian museums for free on the first Sunday of every month.
That said, you will be living in a country that is a pioneer in architecture so even walking on the street will feel like a cultural activity!
Top 5 urban attractions for students
The cheapest places to travel in Italy are often located in the southern part of the country but this doesn’t mean that there are no cheap activities in the other parts. Here are the best places to travel on a budget in Italy’s popular cities:
- Discover all the free attractions in Rome. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, Rome is often referred to as an open-air museum. Indeed, in the Italian capital, thousands of years of history will be surrounding you. There are also several free activities to enjoy in Rome, including visiting the 2,000-year-old Pantheon, which is now a church; St. Peter's Basilica, the largest basilica in the city; the famous Spanish Steps; and the Trevi Fountain, where people toss coins and make wishes.
- Do window shopping in Milan. It may be hard to enjoy Milan’s luxurious living as a student but you can still visit its galleries for free. Take a stroll at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping gallery, to see how luxury and exquisite architecture meet.
- Visit the piazzas in Florence. A paradise for art and culture lovers, Florence has many piazzas (or town squares in English) that offer great views of the city’s Renaissance-style architecture, and its landmark, Santa Maria del Fiore. Combine these views with an espresso and enjoy people-watching in this historical city.
- Cross the bridges on Venetian canals. Riding a gondola in Venice is a bucket list experience but it might be quite expensive on a student budget. An experience that will let you in all those iconic canals though, is crossing the bridges on foot.
- See the Historic Centre of Naples (Centro Storico di Napoli). Dating back to 470 BC, every corner of Naples is adorned with history. A visit to the Historic Centre of Naples, a UNESCO heritage site will take you back in time as you will see Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Spanish influences.
Top 5 outdoor attractions for students
Although Italy has gorgeous beaches, many of them are managed by private beach concessions. But this doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the outdoors for free or for a cheaper price. Here are some popular activities for the outdoorsy among you:
- Visit the Gran Paradiso National Park. An hour north of Turin, close to the French and the Swiss border is the Gran Paradiso National Park. Stretching over 173,000 acres, the park is the perfect place to watch the towering mountains, hike on lake trails, and observe wildlife. Entry is free and you can get there by car, bus, or train.
- Hike on the Dolomite Mountains. Italy’s famous mountain range, the Dolomites is a mountain lover’s paradise. With unreal views of alpine meadows, mountain peaks, and rolling green hills, there are many activities you can do, including skiing, mountain climbing, hiking, and cycling.
- Visit the Pompeii ruins. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., it destroyed the entire city of Pompeii. Today, you can visit the ruins and see the main attractions, including theatres, houses, and sculptures. For entry, there are no student discounts but EU citizens between the ages of 18-24 receive a reduction. Everyone can benefit from free entry if they visit on the first Sunday of the month, as is the case with other Italian museums.
- Explore the Cinque Terre villages. A UNESCO world heritage site, Cinque Terre consists of five villages. If you purchase the Cinque Terre Card for €7.50 per day, you get access to all the trains between the villages as well as hiking trails full of scenic spots and the iconic colourful houses that the region is known for.
- Relax at the Cascate del Mulino. Located in rural Tuscany, Cascate del Mulino consists of natural spas and hot springs. It is open all year round and admission is free so if you’re planning to rent a car in the Tuscan region with friends, this place might be worth stopping by.
Travelling in Italy
Train travel is common in Italy through Trenitalia or Italo. German company Flixbus also offers low-cost bus connections within Italy and the rest of Europe. Alternatively, local bus companies such as Marino or Itabus also have good deals. On Skyscanner, you can also find cheap flight tickets from budget airlines depending on the season.
Here are other ways of getting student discounts through memberships:
- Trenitalia Young Offer provides individuals who are under the age of 30 with a discount of up to 70%. You need to sign up for a free CartaFRECCIA membership to benefit from the discount.
- Italo Young Offer has a similar discount for people aged between 14 and 29.
- Itabus Membership costs €19.99 per year. Members enjoy a 20% discount on all fares.
- Student discounts in museums: Before visiting a museum in Italy, we recommend that you take a look at their website. Some museums have student discounts, some are free for EU students, and some offer free entry to architecture students no matter where they’re from.
Even if you’re studying an English programme, learning at least basic Italian is important, be it for administrative tasks or for your daily life. Most Italian universities offer language classes to international students so the best way to start is to ask your university.
Here are more ways to improve your Italian while you’re studying in Italy:
- Start speaking in Italian when you’re doing your groceries, buying clothes, or ordering food.
- Practice with native speakers and fellow learners.
- Find a language partner. It is likely that you’ll meet Italian students who want to improve their English so consider organising a language exchange.
- Expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Read books, listen to songs, and watch films in Italian.
- Use language apps such as Duolingo and Babbel.
Living as an expat in Italy
An Irish expat living in Italy for 35 years says that „not learning Italian is the biggest mistake someone can make while moving to Italy”. If you’d like to look for jobs and stay in Italy after you graduate, learning the language during your student years is one of the best investments you can make.
If you ask around, you’re likely to find out that, just like international students, expats choose to stay here because they enjoy Italy’s good weather, vibrant nightlife, and wide range of cultural activities. Getting an easy start in Italy is considered extremely difficult by many expats, especially due to the country’s infamous bureaucracy. However, having already spent your student years here, you may not have the same problem.
Expat communities in Italy
Internationals make up 8.7% of the resident population in Italy, and statistics also report large Romanian, Albanian, Moroccan, Chinese, and Ukrainian communities. Most expats reside in the northern and central regions of Italy since these are the areas where the most industrial activity takes place.
What better way to learn more about how to become an expat in Italy than connecting with fellow expats and reading real-life expat stories? Here are some resources you can use:
- Expatica: Expatica provides information for English-speaking expats in various countries, including Italy. They create guides on work, healthcare, and residence permits in Italy.
- InterNations: InterNations is an international community that aims to connect expats through events and online forums. Its members can join Italy expat forums to share tips and experiences.
- Expat.com: Also creating guides on life in Italy, this website features many popular expat cities.
- Facebook groups: Groups such as Expats Living in Italy or Expats in Italy are places where expats ask and answer questions. You can also find city-specific groups by searching “expat + city name” on Facebook.
Italy Immigration rules
How your immigration status changes after graduation
EU students don’t need a work visa to continue working in Italy after graduation. But for non-EU students who want to work in Italy, a work permit is necessary. This means that non-EU students cannot work full-time in Italy on a student visa and instead need to apply to change the type of their residence permits since this is a part of Italy’s immigration process.
If you’re a non-EU student who wants to work in Italy after your studies, you will need to convert your student residence permit into a work permit by visiting the immigration office of the area you reside in.
The conditions are different for:
- students who change their minds about their studies: If you no longer wish to continue your studies in Italy and want to continue working there instead, you may apply for Procedure Flussi which will convert your student visa into a work permit, given that you’ve found a job. This is subject to the quotas of conversion of residence permits announced by the Italian government.
- students who graduate and find a full-time or a part-time job in Italy: If you’ve found a job after your studies, you need to ask the police headquarters to convert your residence permit. You can then go to the post office to collect the necessary kits and fill in the documents to update your residence permit.
- students who are looking for jobs upon graduation: Before the expiry date of your student visa, you can apply for “permesso di soggiorno per ricerca lavoro o imprenditorialita’deglistudenti” (residence permit for job search or entrepreneurship for students). You will have to ask for the relevant kit at the post office, fill in the application form, and submit the required documents.
Types of Work Visas in Italy
If you get a job at an Italian company, your employer will need to request authorisation for hiring you from the One-Stop-Shops for Immigration. This goes for all types of work visas, except for self-employed visas. For a self-employed worker visa, you need to find out which Italian authority you need to apply to, depending on the nature of your business. For example, commercial companies need to get the authorisation of the Chamber of Commerce. After you contact the relevant authority, they will forward your application to the One-Stop-Shops for Immigration.
In Italy, the amount of work permits to be given to international workers is determined based on a quota system. The Italian government announces quotas every year. There are separate quotas for employed workers, seasonal workers, and self-employed workers. The only type of visa that is not subject to the quota system is a highly-qualified worker visa.
As a non-EU student with a university degree, you may also be eligible for EU Blue Card which is geared toward highly skilled workers looking to get a job in the EU.
Immigration processing times
Since changing your immigration status involves going to the post office and filling in lengthy forms, it may take a long time. After you submit your application, you will receive a slip that will give you an appointment at the questura (police headquarters). You will need to go to the questura on the given date for an interview.
Can you apply for permanent residency in Italy?
After five years of uninterrupted legal residence, you can apply for permanent residency in Italy. When you apply for long-term residency, you should also show that you have stable financial resources and health insurance.
Job opportunities in Italy
While Italy still has high youth unemployment rates, this rate is decreasing compared to previous years.
It is possible to get a job after graduation but your field and your Italian level will play a big role. Since industrial activities take place in the north of the country, such as Milan, Turin, and Bologna, jobs related to engineering, architecture, design, and business studies are more likely to be in this area. In southern Italy, agriculture and tourism are the main work areas.
Patience is key when applying for jobs in Italy as an international student. Your chances will be higher if you have a good level of Italian, have an in-demand degree, or have contacts that are willing to provide referrals for you. Doing related internships and working part-time are the best ways to grow your network abroad.
Here are some websites you can use while searching for job opportunities in Italy as a graduate student:
Continue your studies in Italy
If you would like to continue studying in Italy after graduating with your three-year Bachelor’s degree (Laurea in Italian), you have several options.
- Pursue a Master’s degree (Laurea Magistrale): You can apply for a two-year Master’s degree after you’ve completed your Bachelor’s degree. Similar to Bachelor’s, you should check application deadlines on the universities’ websites and pre-enrol at Universitaly. On MastersPortal, we have over 900 Master’s degrees taught in English.
- Apply for a PhD (Dottorato di Ricerca): After completing your Master’s degree, you can continue with a PhD which is the highest level of university education in Italy. Applicants need to pass a comprehensive exam and pursue original research during their studies. PhDs in Italy last at least three years. On PhdPortal, we have over 80 PhD degrees taught in English.
Frequently asked questions
1. Do international students need a visa to study in Italy?
Yes, international students from outside the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) need a visa to study in Italy. There are two types of visas, short-stay visa (type C) and long-stay visa (type D). Visit the Visa for Italy website and answer the questions to find out what type of visa you need.
2. Is studying in Italy worth it?
Italy is known for providing high-quality English programmes at affordable prices. International students also can get part-time jobs or find funding opportunities through scholarships. All these factors combined with a vibrant student life make Italy a great place to study.
3. What is the cost of studying in Italy?
Tuition fees in public universities are usually between €0 and €5,000 per year, and in private universities, between €3,000 and up to €35,000 per year. Italian universities provide a range of tuition fees on their websites. The payable amount by the student is determined based on merit, nationality, and family income.
4. How much money is required to study in Italy?
The cost of living in Italy for a student can range between €700-1,500 per month, including rent, food, transport, and leisure.
5. Can I study in Italy without IELTS?
If English is not your native language, you must show proof of English language skills. While IELTS is one of the most common language exams, TOEFL, PTE Academic, and Cambridge English Advanced are also widely accepted. If you received your secondary school education in English, you might be exempt from taking a language test. It is best to check with your university.
6. What are the requirements to study in Italy?
In Italy, Bachelor’s degrees require 12 years of pre-university education, and Master’s degrees require 15 years. If you have that, you need to apply individually to each university and submit the required documents, including transcripts, personal statements, and application forms. Once you get a letter of eligibility for enrolment from a university, you can pre-enrol at Universitaly and apply for a student visa.